It will eliminate digital illiteracy and connect students in the remotest college of India to the world
Samir Sachdeva | February 27, 2012
The low-cost computing device, Aakash has captured the imagination of the nation. While the nation seems divided its success or failure, the global community is keenly looking forward to this information and communications technology (ICT) revolution in education happening in India.
Aakash is not the first low-cost computing device (so there is no invention per se). The Simputer, which was first released in 2002 was then said to be a low-cost alternative to personal computers. The idea of providing a laptop to all students is also not new as the one laptop per child association (OLPCA) and trust (OLPCT) had been propagating the same since a few years.
Despite all the attention, Aakash is just one component of this metamorphism. There are as many as 48 components structured around building, 'e-content', enabling 'access' and developing 'low-cost computing device' as part of the national mission on education through ICT (NME-ICT).
Although Aakash is developed in India, it has components sourced from countries like South Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States. So it cannot be India's landmark innovation.
The bigger and silent revolution which is happening is about connecting various institutions across the country. Each university in India will get a minimum of one Gpbs connectivity as part of the national knowledge network. These universities will get a local area network (LAN) of 400 nodes under NME-ICT. Each college under the system will get connected.
So the focus of this time is that government is investing on the ecosystem that will enable education through ICT. It is investing equally on building e-content, connectivity and the enabling device. The success of Aakash will rest in the fact that 22 million population of students and teachers in India will be able to access content through the device.
The device has all capabilities like wi-fi, e-book reader, and video steaming required by a student. Though there are some issues as indicated after the pilot run, they will be addressed soon. The fact is that the device and the ecosystem being created with it will help in eliminating digital illiteracy, make available high quality study content and connect students in the remotest college of India to the world. The portable device which will work on battery backup will no longer face challenges of uninterrupted power supply. It will help in doing away with complains of lack of infrastructure or requisite faculty.
Contents created under the mission is accessible to all. It will be built on open source software and can be shared freely.
So, it is not the low cost of a computing device which is the distinguishing feature but the effort to leverage the potential of ICT in providing personalised and interactive education which is important. By nurturing the knowledge and skills of students in colleges, the initiative can make India a true knowledge hub.
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